A Parent’s Guide to Identifying Illnesses Early

A Parent's Guide to Identifying Illnesses Early

When children become ill, there are many tell-tale signs. While an older child is able to identify and talk about how they are feeling, the parents of a newborn infant have to rely on early signs and symptoms to identify if their child is becoming ill. Signs such as changes in breathing or temperature, fluid leaks in the ear, and frequency of feeding may provide important information to how a child is feeling.


If a baby is increasing their rate of breathing, it may be a sign that they aren’t feeling well. A quick, rapid rate may signal illness or pain. This may be accompanied by a flushed skin tone or other symptoms of illness. A newborn should normally take between 40 and 60 breaths per minute. A breathing rate above this may indicate illness or infection.


Jaundice is the presence of yellow or orange tints in the skin, especially noticeable in the whites of the eyes. Caused by a dysfunction of the liver, jaundice may signal a variety of different illnesses. According to The Mayo Clinic, Jaundice is especially common in infants born prematurely before 38 weeks of age and can cause severe consequences such as brain damage if not treated effectively.

Changes in Temperature

A high temperature is an easily identified sign of illness in a newborn infant. Although infants are known to have variable temperature, a prolonged fever can be a sign of a more severe problem. According to Web MD, a child’s temperature can be accurately taken via the mouth, armpit or rectum.

Fluid in the Ears

Build up of fluid in an infant’s ear can be a sign of an ear infection or other illnesses. Ear infections are painful and may cause drainage from the middle ear infection. In older children, ear infections often clear up by themselves. However, in infants, an ear infection may require antibiotics.


Changes in feeding is one of the most common tell-tale signs that an infant isn’t feeling well. Just like an adult may not want to eat when they are feeling nauseous or unwell, an infant may refuse to feed if they are feeling ill. These changes in feeding are normal for a short period of time until the infant is feeling better.

Bowel Habits

Changes in bowel habits or stool colors are one of the most noticeable symptoms that a newborn infant is feeling ill. Constipation may cause an upset stomach, while diarrhea may signal an illness or infection. Both are common and should not be a major cause for concern unless present for a prolonged time or accompanied by other symptoms.

Fussing and Irritation

If a child is not feeling well, they may become fussy or irritable. Screaming, crying and additional movements of the arms and legs are common in infants, but when they become more common than usual, it may signal a problem. Checking for other symptoms, such as a fever or changes to bowel habits, may help to signal whether an illness is the problem. Fussing may also cause a disruption in their sleep schedule, leading to additional irritation.

In newborn infants, illnesses can be scary and a cause for concern. Among other things, signs such as changes to bowel habits, increase in temperature, and changes in eating habits can signal that an infant isn’t feeling well. Each sign or symptoms should be noted carefully. A parent should consider calling a doctor or pediatrician if they are concerned about their child’s health or are unsure whether their child is ill. When you have third-party caregivers, make sure they have proper training like these child care courses in Sydney.

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